Don A. Dillman

Don A. Dillman
Washington State University | WSU · Social & Economic Sciences Research Center

About

198
Publications
104,425
Reads
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35,283
Citations
Additional affiliations
September 1969 - present
Washington State University
Position
  • Regents Professor

Publications

Publications (198)
Article
While completing my PhD in sociology, I did not anticipate spending most of my academic career researching ways to improve methods for doing sample surveys. At that time, I was dedicated to understanding community organization and how people adopt the use of new technologies. This article describes how becoming a new assistant professor just prior...
Article
Mail communications remain a prominent aspect of survey research, especially due to the increasing adoption of web-push surveys throughout the world. However, there is a lack of research on the effectiveness of comprehensive communication strategies for increasing response rates. This paper tests the influence of two communication theories—social e...
Article
In recent years, web-push strategies have been developed in cross-sectional mixed-mode surveys to improve response rates and reduce the costs of data collection. However, pushing respondents into the more cost-efficient web mode has rarely been examined in the context of panel surveys. This study evaluates how a web-push intervention affects the wi...
Chapter
Declines in survey response rates being observed throughout the world are due in part to the use of data collection designs that ignore how the many elements of a particular design, including decisions on the joint use of survey modes interact to affect rates of response. Although several theories of response behavior have been proposed as means of...
Chapter
The 15 years that elapsed between the original International Conference on Questionnaire Design, Development, Evaluation, and Testing (QDET) and QDET2 have witnessed significant changes in the challenges facing designers of questionnaires and data collection methods. This chapter describes the author's experience at the first QDET conference in 200...
Book
The authors’ model orients this community in the vortex of contemporary forces, pointing up, for example, the need for face-to-face interaction among residents versus the larger society’s demand for electronic communication. With increasing conflicts between the culture of rural communities and that of the outside world” occurring, small towns all...
Article
Web-push survey data collection that uses mail contact to request responses over the Internet, while withholding alternative answering modes until later in the implementation process, has developed rapidly over the past decade. This paper describes the reasons this innovative mixing of survey contact and response modes was needed, the primary ones...
Article
Full-text available
Background Previous research has found that a “web-push” approach to data collection, which involves contacting people by mail to request an Internet survey response while withholding a paper response option until later in the contact process, consistently achieves lower response rates than a “paper-only” approach, whereby all respondents are conta...
Article
Address-based sampling(ABS) involves drawing probability samples from address frames; in the United States, ABS frames are usually based, in part, on U.S. Postal Service mail delivery databases. Its use has grown rapidly over the past 10 years to the point where it is considered a viable alternative to random-digit-dial dual frame telephone sample...
Article
The private outside space (POS) that surrounds the traditional single-family detached house is often ignored by designers and builders. Yet, recent research shows that individuals and households in all segments of the population hold a high value for having this space as part of their home environment. This paper reviews evidence that the desire fo...
Article
Full-text available
Survey researchers have typically assumed that university sponsorship consistently increases response rates and reduces nonresponse error across different populations, but they have not tested the effects of utilizing different university sponsors to collect data from the same population. In addition, scholars have not examined how these effects di...
Article
In this overview, we discuss the current state of survey methodology in a form that is useful and informative to a general social science audience. The article covers existing challenges, dilemmas, and opportunities for survey researchers and social scientists. We draw on the most current research to articulate our points; however, we also speculat...
Article
Coverage and response rate challenges facing telephone and internet surveys have encouraged scientists to reconsider mail data collection methods. Although response rates to telephone surveys have declined sharply in the last 20years, it is unclear how response rates to mail have fared during this time. This study analyzes 179 mail-back surveys of...
Article
Full-text available
Because health care providers have a central role in implementing guidelines, health care reform, and new standards of care and technologies, surveying them about their practices and perspectives is vital for health services and policy research. In November 2010, the National Cancer Institute convened a workshop to review and discuss current method...
Chapter
Introduction Responding to Self-Administered Questionnaires: A Conceptualization Principles for Designing Self-Administered Questionnaires Questionnaires Conclusion Acknowledgments
Article
This article first presents a definition of context effects that eliminates from consideration factors beyond the control of survey researchers yet is sufficiently broad to incorporate diverse but related sources of survey context. It then examines four types of context effects that have been documented in mail and telephone surveys with an eye tow...
Chapter
Introduction Social Desirability and Mode Differences Cognitive Processing and Primacy vs. Recency Effects Extremeness as a Result of Context Extremeness as a Result of a “Top-of-the-Head” Response Study Design Findings Potential Gender Effects Mode Effects for Other Questionnaire Items Conclusion
Chapter
Response Rate Research for Individual-Person Surveys How Business Surveys Differ Concluding Remarks
Article
We report results from two statewide experiments in Washington designed to test potential methods for using postal mail to obtain survey responses over the Internet from address-based samples of general public households. The five methods we test are: 1) sending Web and mail modes of response sequentially; 2) providing a prepaid $5 incentive; 3) of...
Article
We report results from two statewide experiments in Washington designed to test potential methods for using postal mail to obtain survey responses over the Internet from address-based samples of general public households. The five methods we test are: 1) sending Web and mail modes of response sequentially; 2) providing a prepaid $5 incentive; 3) of...
Article
Full-text available
We conducted two experiments designed to evaluate several strategies for improving response to Web and Web/mail mixed-mode surveys. Our goal was to determine the best ways to maximize Web response rates in a highly Internet-literate population with full Internet access. We find that providing a simultaneous choice of response modes does not improve...
Article
Survey researchers have reported differing results on frequency distributions when the same item is delivered via an interactive voice response (IVR) system versus the web. The current paper expands such research into the organizational research field and evaluated the hypothesis that respondent motivation affects the occurrence of mode differences...
Chapter
In the USA, Washington is a highly urbanized state with about three quarters of its population residing in just seven of thirty-nine counties. In the 1970s, urban residents were less satisfied with their quality of community life (QOL) compared to residents in rural communities. This presented somewhat of a paradox because urban residents had bette...
Article
Full-text available
Due to recent scholarly attention to visual design, much is known about the effects that specific design features have on web surveys, but little attention has been paid to the effects of overall screen design. Applying Norman’s (2004) emotional design concepts to web survey design, we propose and test hypotheses related to potential detrimental im...
Article
Full-text available
Researchers who are interested in small towns and rural communities in the United States often find that they need to conduct their own sample surveys because many large national surveys, such as the American Community Survey, do not collect enough representative responses to make precise estimates. In collecting their own survey data, researchers...
Article
Full-text available
Previous literature has shown the effects of question wording or visual design on the data provided by respondents. However, few articles have been published that link the effects of question wording and visual design to the development of questionnaire design guidelines. This article proposes specific guidelines for the design of establishment sur...
Article
Abstract Past research suggests that mail surveys encourage a primacy effect, which is a tendency to choose the first answers from a list, whereas telephone surveys encourage a recency effect, a tendency to choose the last answers from a list. This paper summarizes results from 82 new experiments conducted in 12 separate surveys in seven states. On...
Article
Full-text available
The advancements reported here come not from trying to fit the general public to the Internet (e.g. volunteer samples, email contacts only and payments afterwards) but instead trying to fit survey requests to people's normal lives. This approach includes adopting a mixed-mode data collection strategy that relies on mail contact to deliver incentive...
Article
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Abstract The effect of personalization on mail survey response rates was examined in nine studies that included 17 comparisons under several research conditions. A study of this variable across multiple experiments in five agricultural experiment stations was undertaken because of conflicting results from previous research and from concern that the...
Article
Full-text available
Recent experimental research has shown that respondents to forced-choice questions endorse significantly more options than respondents to check-all questions. This research has challenged the common assumption that these two question formats can be used interchangeably but has been limited to comparisons within a single survey mode. In this paper w...
Article
Full-text available
Latence de réponse comme indicateur d'optimisation de questionnaires sur le Web : En répondant aux questions, les répondants exécutent quatre étapes mentales : la compréhension, la recherche d'information, le jugement, et la sélection de réponse. Ceux qui suivent soigneusement toutes les étapes sont appelés optimizers, tandis que ceux qui font moin...
Article
Full-text available
Previous research has revealed techniques to improve response quality in open-ended questions in both paper and interviewer-administered survey modes. The purpose of this paper is to test the effectiveness of similar techniques in web surveys. Using data from a series of three random sample web surveys of Washington State University undergraduates,...
Article
thispaper are those of the authors and are not necessarily those of the U.S.Bureau of the Census or Washington State University. Questions concerningthis paper should be addressed to Cleo Jenkins, U.S. Bureau of the Census, 433Washington Plaza, Building 1, Washington DC, 20233-4700(301-763-7331)
Article
The potential for improving response rates by changing from one mode of data collection to another mode and the consequences for measurement and nonresponse errors are examined. Data collection from 8999 households was done in two phases. Phase 1 data collection was conducted by telephone interview, mail, interactive voice response, or the Internet...
Article
This paper explores how the visual design of scalar questions influences responses in web surveys. We present the results of five experiments embedded in two web surveys of university students. We find that consistently presenting the positive end of the scale first did not impact responses but increases response times. Displaying the categories in...
Article
Respondents follow simple heuristics in interpreting the visual features of questions. The authors carried out two experiments in two panels to investigate how the effect of visual heuristics affects the answers to survey questions. In the first experiment, the authors varied the distance between scale points in a 5-point scale to investigate wheth...
Article
Full-text available
A potential limitation of web-only panels of the general public, even when households are selected using probability methods, is that only about 70 percent of U.S. households have members with Internet access. In addition, some members of Internet-connected households may be unable or unwilling to participate over the web. The Gallup Panel uses bot...
Article
Recent experimental research has shown that respondents to forced-choice questions endorse significantly more options than respondents to check-all questions. This research has challenged the common assumption that these two question formats can be used interchangeably but has been limited to comparisons within a single survey mode. In this paper w...
Article
A national mail out experiment evaluated a final series of questions intended to reduce and identify coverage errors on the census mail form. A random portion of the sample received the experimental series, which included reminders of the reference date and people who might be missed and two coverage questions. Another random portion received a ver...
Article
Recent survey design research has shown that small changes in the structure and visual layout of questions can affect respondents’ answers. While the findings have provided strong evidence of such effects, they are limited by the homogeneity of their samples, in that many of these studies have used random samples of college students. In this paper,...
Article
Full-text available
Innovation within survey modes should always be mitigated by concerns about survey quality and in particular sampling, coverage, nonresponse, and measurement error. This is as true today with the development of web surveying as it was in the 1970s when telephone surveying was being developed. This paper focuses on measurement error in web surveys....
Article
The proliferation of mixed-mode surveys, where data is collected from respondents using different survey modes, raises concern about whether respondent characteristics are being measured equivalently across modes since the data are often combined for analysis. Previous research indicates that three types of factors differentiate survey modes: techn...
Article
Full-text available
We utilize and apply visual design theory to experimentally test ways to improve the likelihood that web respondents report date answers in a particular format desired by the researcher, thus reducing possible deleterious effects of error messages or requests for corrections. These experiments were embedded in a series of web surveys of random samp...
Article
Some argue that use of the Internet tends to pull people's interests away from their local area and weaken community ties (e.g., Kraut et al., 1998). Others argue that the Internet is frequently used to strengthen local ties, and is becoming a tool for helping communities organize to achieve local interests (Hampton and Wellman, 2003). Our results...
Article
Full-text available
In this paper, we show that in Web questionnaires verbal and visual languages can be used to create groups and subgroups of information, which influence how respondents process Web questionnaires. Following Schwarz (1996; and also Schwarz, Grayson, & Knäuper, 1998) we argue that respondents act as cooperative communicators who use formal features o...
Article
Full-text available
For survey researchers, it is common practice to use the check-all question format in Web and mail surveys but to convert to the forced-choice question format in telephone surveys. The assumption underlying this practice is that respondents will answer the two formats similarly. In this research note we report results from 16 experimental compariso...
Article
Full-text available
In this paper we examine the tendency for branching instructions to be ignored, misread, or otherwise not appropriately followed so that item nonresponse occurs for follow–up questions. The potential influence on branching errors of seven features of question complexity are examined, including high number of question words, high number of answer ca...
Article
Full-text available
Changes in survey mode for conducting panel surveys may contribute significantly to survey error. This article explores the causes and consequences of such changes in survey mode. The authors describe how and why the choice of survey mode often causes changes to be made to the wording of questions, as well as the reasons that identically worded que...
Article
Full-text available
A survey was conducted in 2002 to measure the success of technology transfered to growers (i.e., changes in attitudes and behaviors) from a long-term, large-scale, integrated cropping systems experiment called the Ralston Project, near Ralston, Washington, USA. Non-irrigated, cereal and oilseed growers who participated in biennial field tours (1996...
Article
The empirical effects of adherence to details of the Total Design Method approach to the design of mail surveys is discussed.
Chapter
This chapter has two objections. The first is to discuss briefly the ways in which the objections and procedures for cognitively testing self-administered questionnaires need to be expanded from those that apply to interviews. The second objective is to report three case studies in which cognitive interviews and field experiments were conducted sim...
Article
Full-text available
This article reports results from 14 experimental com- parisons designed to test 7 hypotheses about the effects of two types of nonverbal languages (symbols and graphics) on responses to self- administered questionnaires. The experiments were included in a survey of 1,042 university students. Signi ficant differences were observed for most comparis...
Article
Full-text available
There is a general consensus that a respondent performs four steps in answering a close- ended question: comprehending the question, retrieving from memory the information neces- sary to form an answer, judging the information retrieved, and selecting an answer from among the response options. Respondents who carefully employ all four steps are cal...